One Year

Screeching, sirens, crying. What happened? All I remember was that I was in the passenger seat and Gavin was driving. We were at the same stoplight as my brother was when he got in the crash with Ben and Sam, and then I don’t remember.

“I’ll be right behind you, Kerri! I promise!” Damon. Where was he? I can’t see him! I can’t see anything. My world is black. My world is nothing…

On September 2nd of last year, my brother’s best friend was killed in a car accident. My brother, Damon, was almost killed right alongside him. Sam and I were close, he was another brother to me. He always looked out for me when Damon wasn’t around.

The past year has been difficult for both me and my brother. We moved to a small town in Illinois with our cousin, Jericho, and his parents, because our parents thought it would be easier for us to cope with Sam’s death. It hasn’t. In truth, it has only made things a lot harder.

Jericho and I are the same age, so I was able to fit into his group of friends, which included his girlfriend Aria and my best friend Jana, luckily. I knew Aria since before I moved here, and Jana came with me because Sam was her brother. Her parents, though, moved with her so that they could all get a fresh start. People who didn’t know us last year always assumed we were sisters; we may act like it, but we’re not.

This is our senior year, and possibly our last one together. Aria, Jana and I have a lot of the same classes, but I don’t have any with Jericho. During the second week of school, a new kid moved here. His name is Gavin. Apparently, he’s been held back twice now and is bad news, or so I’ve heard. What’s that old saying? Don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, lucky me, I was assigned to be his guide for the first week. Guess I’ll be the one to confirm the rumors and deny them…

“Hey Damon, I have a question for you.”

“Hey Kerri. You scared me. I didn’t know you were down here.” He was sitting at his desk with his computer open. It looked like he was writing an essay for school.

“Sorry.”

“What’s your question? I have to get this essay finished so I can send it in to my teacher by midnight.”

“Do you know anything about Gavin Jameson? I have to show him around school this week and wondered if—“

“Stay away from him. If I hear anything about you hanging out with outside of school, I will kill him and then tell mom and dad and get you grounded. I know I can’t tell you not to show him around, because it is your job as senior vice president, but I can tell you to stay away from him outside of that.”

“Why? What’s so wrong about me hanging out with him?”

“You are not allowed near him, you hear me? Now go to bed. It’s almost eleven o’clock and we have school tomorrow. Goodnight, little sis.”

“Okay. Night.” As I walked upstairs, I debated in my head whether or not I wanted to listen to Damon. Gavin seems really nice when we talked earlier, and Dave too. Maybe I will tell Jana what Damon said and still hang out with them. Usually, I care a lot about what my brother has to say, but not this time. This time, I might just do things my way.

By the end of the first week, Gavin and I were getting along great. I don’t know what everyone is so afraid of when it comes to him. So what if maybe he’s a little older than us because he was held back?

It seems to me like Gavin is fitting in great with the other kids, too. Especially Dave Harris, who I’m pretty sure is Jana’s crush. Perfect!

The four of us start hanging out. Over the next two months, I would tell my brother that I was going to the movies with some friends, but really Gavin and Dave would pick Jana and I up a few blocks away and we would drive around for a couple of hours.

It happened during the winter, when the roads had started getting icy and you had to wear heavy coats and still have the heat on high. Jana and I told Damon that we were going to go watch the boy’s basketball game at our old school so that we could see our friends. We did go out of town, but not to watch the game. We drove around our old town, Gavin driving and me in the front seat with Jana and Dave talking in the back. Jana didn’t notice what stop light we were at, but I did.

“Gavin, please make sure you look both ways more than once before you go,” I said in a quiet voice. It was the same stoplight where my brother and his two best friends got hit by the drunk driver, the one that killed Sam.

“Why?” He asked, but when I didn’t answer he just did as I asked. He looked both ways twice when the light turned green and went. I blacked out.

Screeching, sirens, crying. What happened? All I remember was that I was in the passenger seat and Gavin was driving. We were at the same stoplight as my brother was when he got in the crash with Ben and Sam, and then I don’t remember.

“I’ll be right behind you, Kerri! I promise!” Damon. Where was he? I can’t see him! I can’t see anything. My world is black. My world is nothing…

When I woke up I was in a hospital bed. The drapes were open, and the moon was high in the sky. It had to be around midnight or something. Had I really only been asleep for an hour? Something moved out of the corner of my eye, then Damon came into my view.

“Kerri! You’re awake!” He leaned over me and pressed a button on the other side of the bed. 

Someone’s voice came through. “She’s awake; please send the doctor in right away.” I coughed. Damon put his hand on my foreheard.

When I tried to speak, I coughed again. And again. And again. “Jana.” My voice was strained. 

The doctor came in and looked me over for a few minutes before leaving again, satisfied I was alive and would be okay.

“Jana is in the lobby. Do you remember what happened to you, Kerri?” I shook my head no. “You told me you were going to the boy’s basketball game, and then I get a phone call from Jana telling me there was an accident and that you weren’t opening your eyes. You want to explain that one to me?”

“Umm…”

“Don’t you dare lie to me. I know you were with Gavin and Dave. I thought I told you to stay away from them?”

“You did… what happened?”

“You should have stayed away from them, like I told you to.”

“Damon, I want Jana.” He looked like he wanted to yell at me some more, but he nodded yes.

Kissing my cheek, he said, “I’ll be right back, little sis,” and left the room.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on my door and Jana and her mother walked in. “Kerri!” Jana ran over to me, found a place to sit where she wouldn’t bother me, sat down, and grabbed my left hand.

“It’s good to see you are awake, Kerri. I’ll give you two some privacy. I’ll be in the lobby, Jana.” Her mom left then, and I looked at my best friend.

“I thought I was going to lose you…”

“You are never going to lose me Jana. I’m going to be here for you always.”

“Well, it’s not your turn to be here for me. It’s my turn to be here for you. What do you need? I’ll do everything for you.”

“Well, I could use a glass of water… and something else…”

“I can get you some water. What else do you need?”

“I need to know. Everything.”

“Umm… about what specifically do you need to know about? We were at the same stoplight that Damon, Ben, and, umm, Sam were at when, you know. The light turned green, he looked both ways twice, then went. And then a car was coming at us from the right side and they tried stopping but there was ice and they couldn’t. I remember you screaming and then you just stopped. Dave had pulled me into his lap practically to protect me and the car swerved but the passenger side still got hit pretty badly. When Dave pulled you out, he had to pull you out through the driver’s side…”

“Wait, what happened to Gavin? Is he alright? Why didn’t he pull me out?!”

“Why don’t I go get that water for you?” She got up to walk out when I grabbed a hold of her wrist. She turned to look at me and I just stared at her, pleading with my eyes to get her to give in and tell me.

“He’s fine. The airbag went off and he got hit in the face. Dave pulled me out the rest of the way, then him. I was crying because I thought you were dead, and so I went to call Damon. When I got off the phone with him, Gavin was gone, and Dave had called the ambulance and was giving you CPR like they had told him to.”

“He left?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Umm… I’m going to go find Damon.” As she headed towards the door I could feel the tears starting to come. Jana turned around with a red face to look at me, waved, and then left the room.

I was alone for ten minutes when there was a knock on the door. As I was about to tell them to come in, I heard Damon’s voice. It sounded as if he was yelling, but I wasn’t quite sure because he wasn’t quite outside my door.

“What are you doing here?” He was outside my door.

“Look, Damon, I just want to see her and give her these.” It was Gavin. I couldn’t believe he came.

“You need to leave. Get out of this hospital. If I find out you try to see her again, you’ll be sorry.”

“Oh, yeah? What are you going to do about it? I’ve been seeing your sister for weeks now and I know for a fact that you didn’t know about it and that she didn’t tell you. I very easily could have told her, Damon, and I still can. Don’t push me, kid. You don’t know who you are messing with here.”

“Get out. Get out of this hospital, get out of this town, and get out of my sister’s life. She doesn’t need you nor does she want you. So go. And don’t come back.”

“Oh I’ll be back, don’t you worry. There is nothing forcing me to leave and that includes you. Like I said, I can still tell her, I have my ways. I’ll be back, I promise you that. Until she tells me she doesn’t want me around anymore, I’m still going to be here. Don’t think I’m not being serious either.” Damon didn’t reply.

After I waited for what seemed like ten minutes, Damon walked into the room. When I looked at his face he knew that I had heard their conversation. He looked as if he was about to burst.

“Damon?” He had walked to the window in the few minutes of silence we had after he’d walked in. He turned towards me now.

“Yeah?”

“I don’t want to know what that conversation is about, and I know that I won’t remember by tomorrow because in a few minutes I’ll be asleep from this medication. But before I forget everything that I just heard, I want to say two things.”

“Go ahead.”

“One, I’m sorry for everything I’m putting you through. You went through it once when Sam died and I was there for you, but I should’ve been there more for you.”

“Kerri—“

“Don’t. I’m not finished yet. The second thing I want to say is that I want you to tell him to leave me alone. I never want to see him again. Even if I have to tell him myself or get a restraining order against him. I just want him to leave me alone.”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and one more thing. I love you.”

“I love you, too, sis. Now get some rest, you leave in a few days, alright?”

“Okay.” I fell asleep with a smile on my face, and, depending on how much pain medication they gave me, I didn’t wake up until the next night.

Dark. Red lights turning to green. Driving. Metal crashing into each other. Pain.

“Kerri! Kerri!” It was Damon. I couldn’t see him. It was happening all over again. “Kerri, wake up!”

“Kerri!” Jana! She’s okay!

Someone is pounding on my chest. I can’t breath. I can’t see. And then I wake up.

It’s the middle of the night. I got out of the hospital a week ago with a broken leg, two broken ribs that had to be fixed as soon as I had gotten to the hospital after the accident, and bruises and cuts all over my body. As I bolted upright in bed, I winced from the pain in my ribs. Damon was pulling me upright as Jana moved to sit behind me to hold me up.

“Kerri, talk to me. Please. You’ve woken up like this every night since you’ve gotten home and haven’t told me a single thing about what makes you do this.”

“I keep having a dream, the same dream, about the accident…”

“What happens?” Jana asked.

“Umm, well I’m staring at a bunch of stoplights in a row that are all red but then turn green. Then there is this sound that sounds like metal being scrunched together, and then Damon comes in screaming my name and telling me to wake up, and then you do, too, Jana. And all I think when you come in is that you are okay. Then someone is pounding on my chest, and I can’t breathe nor see anything. And then I wake up and I’m in bed.” 

“It isn’t real, Kerri. I promise nothing is going to happen to you like that again. Jana, why don’t you go back to bed, alright? I’ll sit here until she falls asleep.”

It was a dream. It was all a dream…

I wish the week I got out of school after I’d gotten out of the hospital was longer, because now I am really wishing I wasn’t here. Jericho and Jaxson help me get up the stairs outside of school and Aria holds my bag for me. Everyone who knows me knows that I hate special treatment, but I guess I should have known that this is what I would get. When we are at our lockers, Jericho skips going to his and puts my stuff away and gets my books for first hour. He had told me he was planning to carry all of my books until I was off my crutches. I hated that I had to be so vulnerable in school, even though I would have Jericho with me every day and Aria and all my other friends, I still hated how everyone felt sorry for me and felt obligated that they had to do something for me or move or something.

“Hey, Jericho!”

“Oh, hey Jason.” Jericho had barely even glanced at him as he bent over in front of my locker to get the book I asked him to grab.

“Hey, Kerri. How are you?” I never really noticed in gym how he was always picking me on his team, and, before Gavin, I had actually secretly liked him. He is the captain of the basketball team, you know.

“Hi. I’m fine, thanks for asking.”

“Can I talk to you for a few minutes?”

“Sure. Hey Jericho, can you—“

“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m doing everything for you? I am taking your tray up already. Here are your crutches. Let me help you out. Jaxson, help me real quick?”

Jaxson began to stand up, but then Jason spoke up. “Its fine Jaxson, I can help him.” Jason and Jericho help pick me up until I can stand. Jason hands me my crutches and we walk out of the cafeteria. 

Since its lunch time, we head outside. “I guess I never really thought this through. Will you be okay to walk down the stairs?”

“Well, I guess we’ll never know until I try.” I make my way toward the stairs, then back up. “But maybe I should do it when there are a few other people around, just in case, you know?”

“Alright.” He walks over to me and bends over as if to pick me up.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I’m going to carry you, is that okay?” He smiles as he puts one arm under my knees and the other behind my back. I moved my crutches into my other hand as he picked me up. About halfway down the steps, Jason almost falls.

“Don’t drop me!” I screeched. We were both laughing when we got to the end of the stairs. “Okay, you can put me down now.”

Except he doesn’t. He carries me all the way to the other side of the quad before setting me down on a bench. No one else is outside right now, so it is the perfect place for us to talk. I wonder what he wants to talk about.

Still laughing, Jason says, “So there is a reason as to why I brought you all the way out here where we could talk alone.”

“And what is that reason?” I say with a smile on my face. I can’t believe he is actually talking to me…

“I was kind of wondering if maybe you’d like to, um, go out on a date with me?”

Shock consumes me, but somehow I still manage to say yes.

To think, at the beginning of the year I was dating the ‘bad boy’ of Fairview, Illinois. Now, I am going on a date with Jason Adams, star sports player who is also smart. Talk about fate…

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